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Kerry Set To Begin Week-long Asia Tour

US Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to the Asian cities of Jerusalem, Ramallah, Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Tacloban, and Manila from December 11-18, the US State Department said in a press release issued Tuesday.

In Jerusalem, Kerry will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss a range of issues, including Iran and the final status of the ongoing peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

Kerry will then travel to Ramallah, where he will meet with Palestine Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The two leaders are expected to discuss the final status of the peace negotiations with Israel, among other issues.

Kerry's fourth-coming trip to Asia will be his fourth to the region since becoming Secretary of State.

"Within the Asia-Pacific re-balance, Southeast Asia holds special importance, and the Secretary's travel to Vietnam and the Philippines demonstrates the enduring US commitment and his personal connections to the region," the State Department stressed.

Kerry's visit to Vietnam will highlight the dramatic "transformation in the bilateral relationship over the years and our growing partnership" in many areas, the statement added. While in Ho Chi Minh City, Kerry's meetings will "underscore the growth of our bilateral trade relationship and the empowering role of education."

Kerry's visit to the Mekong Delta will emphasize how Americans and Vietnamese can work together on critical issues such as climate change and renewable energy.

Kerry will then travel to Hanoi, where he will meet with senior Vietnamese leaders to advance the Comprehensive Partnership announced by US President Barack Obama and President Truong Tan Sang in July and to discuss a wide range of bilateral and regional issues.

Secretary Kerry will then travel to the Philippines, a longtime US friend and ally. He will meet with senior Philippine officials in Manila to "discuss ways to build on our already-strong economic, security, and people-to-people relations," the press release said.

While in the Philippines, Kerry will also visit the storm-hit city of Tacloban to get a first-hand report of the recovery efforts taking place there in the aftermath of the destruction caused by Typhoon Haiyan. He will also discuss with officials in Tacloban how the United States can continue to contribute to the relief and reconstruction work.

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